A day at the Collier County Fair
Rides, rabbits, fried food and more
NAPLES — Editor's note: The original version of this story cited incorrect information from the Collier County fair website that said gate admission on Monday, March 21 was 50 percent off gate admission only, with proceeds going to cancer research. It should have reported that 50 percent of gate admission ($10 for adults, $5 for children) would go to cancer research. That information was corrected in this story.
There’s more than the midway at the Collier County fair.
While there will be plenty of adrenaline-pumping rides with names like the Super Himalaya and the Wild Claw, there are also dozens of other attractions and shows, including monkeys riding on racing dogs in the Banana Derby, sea lion and shark shows, a ventriloquist and a comedy hypnotist.
“Most of the entertainment that travels each year houses in the winter in Florida,” said Stephen White, spokesman for the fair. “There are hundreds and hundreds of fairs all summer, so it’s hard to get the best acts that time of year. ... With all that great entertainment being wintered here in Florida, we are able to get the best of the best.”
Bobo, Bert and Gilligan, three Capuchin monkeys, will be visiting the fair for the first time this year for a show called the Banana Derby. During the show, monkeys ride dogs like jockeys, and the dogs race.
“In the banana derby, we combine man’s best friend and man’s closest relative,” said Philip Hendricks, who owns the show and calls himself the monkeys’ butler because they love to throw their clothes on the floor.
It’s not hard to train monkeys to ride dogs, Hendricks said. He starts by giving the dog a nice comfortable bed, and letting the monkey get comfortable sitting there, too, while he relaxes and watches TV.
“You just have to take your time, and do a lot of repetition a lot of positive reinforcement,” he said. The dogs and monkeys also get their favorite treats when they race. Right now, the monkeys’ favorite treats are mangoes.
Other animal-oriented shows will include a live shark encounter, a rainforest animal exhibit and a sea lion exhibit called “Sea Lion Splash.”
Three Patagonian sea lions named Kim, Rose and Kitty will be traveling with the sea lion show, which includes two swimming pools, said Marco Peters, owner of the company.
Each of the sea lions knows how to do about 60 different unique behaviors, Peters said, and they’ll switch it up every time they do a show. Most of the tricks you’ll see will be based on natural behaviors, like a movement he calls porpoising, which is a way to jump in and out of the water.
Other tricks, like balancing a spinning ball on their nose might not have natural applications, but are fun to watch, he said. If you miss their shows, the sea lions will be visible in the exhibit all day and night, he added.
Music acts will include artists paying tribute to Patsy Cline, Trace Adkins and Tim McGraw. And if you’re looking for a laugh, there’s comedy hypnotist Denise Oatley Hall and comedian and ventriloquist Tom Crowl, who performs with his alter ego, Dangerous Duck.
Dangerous Duck is Crowl’s main character, but the program will also feature other characters, including a talking tennis ball named Wilson and human puppets, he said.
The duck interacts with the crowd and “he’s not afraid to say anything,” Crowl said. “He’s kind of the precocious child, with an adult attitude.”
But the human puppets, which require audience participation, are the highlight of the show, he said.
“That always gets everybody rolling,” he said.
If you go
Collier County Fair
When: See schedule below
Where: Collier County Fair Grounds, 10 miles east of Interstate 75 on Immokalee Road
General Admission: $10 for adults 12 and older, $5 for ages 6 to 11, free for 5 and younger; armband prices depend on the day and ride coupons are $1
Rentals: $5 strollers, $10 wagons, $10 wheelchairs
Information: For a detailed entertainment schedule, visit www.collierfountyfair.com
Something else: Active duty and retired U.S. military personnel get in free with U.S. military ID
Today: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., moonlight madness night, adults $10, kids $5, armbands $20
Saturday: noon to 1 a.m.; adults $10, kids $5
Sunday: noon to 11 p.m.; 4-H Day, 4-Hers get in free with valid 4-H card, adults $10, kids $5, armbands $20
Monday: 6 to 11 p.m.; 50 percent of gate admission goes to cancer research, adults $10, kids $5, armbands $15
Tuesday: 6 to 11 p.m.; ten buck Tuesday, adults $5, kids $3, armbands $10
Wednesday: Noon to 11 p.m.; family day, adults $10, kids $5, armbands $15, armbands for Kiddie Rides only $5
Thursday: 6 to 11 p.m.; adults $10, kids $5
March 25: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.; midnight madness, admission and armband $20 (mandatory at 10 p.m.), gate admission only, $10, no ride tickets sold after 10 p.m.
March 26: Noon to 1 a.m.; adults $10, kids $5
March 27: Noon to 10 p.m.; family block party, armbands $15 (including gate admission), no armbands $5